Why Aurora is buying Uber’s troubled self-driving group

Since its inception in 2015, Uber’s self-driving program has suffered from and caused a number of issues. In the beginning it struggled to meet the requirements of then CEO Travis Kalanick and catch up with the self-driving team at Google (now Waymo). Then it landed at the center of a massive lawsuit alleging Waymo accused Uber of stealing trade secrets. Weeks after the companies settled the case, a self-driving Uber hit and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona while she was crossing the street. Subsequent research found that the program’s safety culture was poor, that there were problems with the fight, and that generally little progress had been made in freeing mankind from the driver’s seat.

No wonder, then, that CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wanted to outsource the expensive program in difficult economic times. What is strange is that Aurora, the self-driving outfit led by former Google boss Chris Urmson – a notoriously cautious and methodical engineer – became a buyer. We called him to explain what he saw on the team that Uber no longer wanted.

Read our interview with Urmson here, learn more about the week’s transportation news below. If you haven’t already, sign up here to receive this newsletter in your inbox every week.

RJ Scaringe founded Rivian in 2009 when he was 26 years old. More than a decade later, his electric vehicle startup is at an important juncture: It is preparing to ship the first two vehicles in 2021 and is building a fleet of 100,000 vans for Amazon, and Scaringe is a billionaire who works with Jeff Bezos and legendary auto manager Alfred Sloan. Here’s what you should know about the man who races to reshape the auto industry.

Starting in 2022, ships with 150-foot sails could become a common sight in New York Harbor, and they won’t have anything to do with historical reenactments. Like anyone who moves goods by sea, commodities giant Cargill is hoping to cut costs, especially in the face of new environmental regulations that are phasing out the use of very cheap but very dirty bunker fuel. So Cargill is trying a new twist on an old technology: high-tech sails developed by a team with experience in Formula 1 and America’s Cup yacht races that promise to cut fuel consumption by 30%.

The race to ship billions of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide is officially on, and some US-based airlines have a distinct advantage. The frozen form of carbon dioxide is critical to keeping these vaccines at extremely low temperatures during transport. However, flying with too much material has long been seen as a safety risk for pilots and passengers. Here are five airlines and logistics companies that have secured the right to move unprecedented amounts of dry ice – a potentially key benefit when it comes to using the airlift of a lifetime.

Everything else:

Axel Springer, the parent company of Insider Inc., is an investor in Uber.

Comments are closed.